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April / May 2015

Human Resources

‘Outplacement’ helps laid off workers find new jobs By Holly Culhane


lunging world oil prices are prompting U.S. oil producers and service companies, including many in Kern County, to reorganize and trim staffs. Cutbacks are also being made in related industries and by service providers, ranging from supply vendors to local restaurants. The oil industry and mineral-rich Kern County are accustomed to rollercoaster price rides in the market. But that does not make these tough staffing decisions easier or the heartbreak of losing your job any less painful. The good news is many industry observers are predicting the latest downturn will be short-lived Holly Culhane – maybe just a couple of years. But that, in itself, poses challenges for companies that will need to hire skilled workers when they do resume full operations. How can companies make the necessary cutbacks today, while maintaining their reputations for being good employers during the tomorrows ahead? First and foremost, layoffs should be conducted in a thoughtful, legal manner. Beyond that, prudent companies are providing “outplacement” services, which help displaced workers find new jobs. This is not a job placement service, but rather a program that helps displaced workers with tough tasks such as evaluating career options, preparing for job interviews and updating their resumes. Seldom are employees prepared for a layoff. Often

they have not been in the job market for a number of years and may be in an industry that has dwindling job opportunities. Losing a job is said to be among the top three most stressful life events – right behind the death of a loved one and divorce. The good news? An effective outplacement program will provide workers with a safety net to help them adjust and move forward with their careers. If a company’s finances are so tight that employees must be cut from the payroll, paying for an outplacement program for displaced workers may seem like an unnecessary expense. In reality, such a program can benefit both workers and employers alike. Why should employers consider offering outplacement services? • From a humanitarian standpoint, it is only right to help displaced workers who are experiencing a sense of loss, betrayal, anger and fear. • When the economy turns, a company’s reputation

matters. How the employees they may want to rehire exited the company can determine their willingness to return. • Displaced employees, their families and friends also are customers. If a company values its reputation and brand, it wants to be seen as an employer that cares for its workers. • Successful outplacement programs can save companies money. The faster a displaced worker finds a new job, the fewer unemployment benefits a company will be obligated to pay. • Often the “survivors,” the employees who were not laid off, feel guilty and frightened. If the survivors know their displaced former co-workers are receiving help, they will be more likely to focus on their work and maintain their productivity. The key is for a company to contract with an outplaThe key is for a company to contract with an outplacement provider that will give personal and competent attention to displaced workers through individual and group sessions, written resources and online services. Counselors must be accessible, knowledgeable and current on job searching techniques. And, finally, it is not enough that a company simply hire an outplacement contractor. Companies should closely monitor the contractor’s performance and success rate, and displaced workers should be encouraged to use all of the services offered. Holly Culhane is president of the Bakersfieldbased human resources consulting firm P.A.S. Associates and P.A.S. Investigations. She can be contacted through her website and through the PAS Facebook page.

There’s more to motivating than money By Robin Paggi


appiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort,” said the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Easy for him to say; he was filthy rich. However, according to lots of research on the subject, he was right. That’s good news for employers who want their employees to be happy and motivated but don’t have a lot of money to give them. As for the research, Warrington College of Robin Paggi Business professor Tim Judge and colleagues reviewed findings from 92 studies on whether money motivates employees. They concluded that the association between pay and job satisfaction is actually very weak (See “The relationship between

pay and job satisfaction: A meta-analysis of the literature” in the Journal of Vocational Behavior). Ian Larkin, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, mostly agrees. He was quoted in the article “Inside Employee Motivation: Does Money Really Make a Difference?” on, as saying: "Money is highly motivational for people. But saying money is the only thing we should use is also silly. Companies probably think too much about using money as a motivator and too little about other motivators." So, what other motivators are there? In his book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” Daniel H. Pink says that if you want employees to be happy and motivated, focus on their innate needs for autonomy, mastery and purpose. Autonomy People have the need to direct their own lives. Employers can provide autonomy for employees by allowing them a say in what they do (“Would you rather do this task or that task?”), when they

do it (“Would you rather work the day or night shift?”), how they do it (“This is the result I need – you can get there however you want to.”), and whom they do it with (“You can choose who you would like to partner with on this.”). Mastery People have the need to learn and create new things. Employers can help with this by giving employees moderately challenging tasks that allow them to extend themselves and develop more skills. Purpose People have a need to contribute to a cause greater than themselves. Employers

can help with this by having a mission and vision for their organization (besides just making money) and making sure employees know how they contribute to making the mission and vision a reality. In addition to those needs, people have a need to be recognized for their contributions. In response to the question “What two or three things do you most want in a job” in a Harris poll, the most frequent answers were 1) a good salary, 2) job security, and 3) recognition for a job well done. How can employers inexpensively and meaningfully recognize employees? Check out the article “25 Ways to Reward Employees (Without Spending a Dime)” on for some excellent ideas. As the saying goes: Money does not buy happiness. Nor does it buy motivated employees. Robin Paggi is the training coordinator at Worklogic HR where she creates and delivers workshops on topics such as harassment prevention, communication and supervisory skills. She can be reached at rpaggi@worklogiclegal. com or 695-5168.

Kern Business Journal April/May 2015  

Legal and Human Resources Issue

Kern Business Journal April/May 2015  

Legal and Human Resources Issue